Brexit: US will 'dedicate a lot of resources' to securing UK trade deal

25 January 2020, 18:35

Mr Mnuchin (L) is "quite optimistic" about striking a US-UK trade deal
Mr Mnuchin (L) is "quite optimistic" about striking a US-UK trade deal. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The USA is "prepared to dedicate a lot of resources" to securing a post-Brexit UK trade deal, says American treasury secretary.

Steven Mnuchin said he was "quite optimistic" over the chances of a US-UK trade deal being agreed within the next year.

The US treasury secretary was speaking at Chatham House in central London on Saturday.

It comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally signed the Withdrawal Agreement on Friday, calling it a "fantastic moment" for the country.

Mr Mnuchin was speaking at Chatham House in London
Mr Mnuchin was speaking at Chatham House in London. Picture: PA

"We've said that our goal - your goal is trying to get both of these trade agreements done this year - and I think from a US standpoint we are prepared to dedicate a lot of resources," he told the audience.

"If the UK and US have very similar economies with a big focus on services, and I think this will be a very important relationship.

"And this is going back to the president during the campaign, he said, post-Brexit, they'll be at the top of the list."

The UK hopes to begin conducting trade talks with the US and the EU once it leaves the bloc on 31 January.

Mr Mnuchin also met with Sajid Javid this morning for breakfast at 11 Downing Street.

He was expected to tell the UK Chancellor that he was worried about Britain using Chinese tech giant Huawei to help build its 5G infrastructure.

US President Donald Trump and Mr Johnson spoke on the phone earlier to discuss telecommunications network security in relation to the firm.

The National Security Council of senior ministers is expected to make a final decision next week on whether or not to use Huawei in the project.

Mr Mnuchin also underlined his country's opposition to Britain's plans to tax tech giants.

The UK Chancellor is set to introduce a two per cent levy on the revenues of search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces that obtain value from UK users.

Known as the digital services tax, it will be temporary until an international agreement is struck up on how to best deal with online giants such as Google and Facebook.

However, Mr Mnuchin said the US believes "any tax that is designed specifically on digital companies is a discriminatory tax."

He said such a tax is "not appropriate" and has "violations to our tax treaties and other issues".

"So, we're working through that and I think we have a good outcome of trying to give some room now in 2020 to continue these discussions."

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